[iDC] iCollege

Nancy White nancyw at fullcirc.com
Sat Jun 19 15:12:57 UTC 2010

My first response is "amen."  And that is again, 
as I noted in my opening post, from someone who 
is not an academic, who is somewhat lost in most 
of this conversation as it lacks the type of 
context I experience learning and facilitating 
networked learning in the world.

It is "amen" because I see the model Stepheen et 
al are practicing, developing, living --> echoed 
in the network of folks I work with in the 
non-academic world of learning at work, in life, 
etc. It exists. It thrives. It bumps up against 
traditional models of organizational learning 
that focus on training and course packages, But 
it lives and thrives. That is important.

My observation/assumption is that this model (and 
perhaps our overall model of thriving in this 
world we are on the verge of destroying) is based 
on a (radical?) shift in how we as individuals, 
communities and societies choose to be and live 
in the world. It questions business models, governance, EVERYTHING!

My question is, IF this model represents a 
signficant shift in the "way things work/we 
operate", can shifting education help shift the 
world? Or are there other things that need to 
shift before or along with education to make this happen.

What do I mean by this "shift?" I'm not sure I 
can articulate it. I'll try... ;-) A 
reconfiguration of individualism and societal 
cooperation. I become MORE responsible for me and 
when we do this, we all become more responsible 
(no, that is not the word I want -- usefully 
interdependent?) to each other.  The reason we 
need both is that we need the individual 
motivation to act, we need the creative and rich 
knowledge/resources and opportunities for 
cooperation and collaboration from the network. 
Neither can operate alone. Thus I would 
distinguish between strong individuals and 
individuals who only think of/take care of self 
or totally rely on others to do so.

Bottom line, beyond the onward development and 
preservation of your roles as thinkers and actors 
in academia, what is the role of the changes in 
education in the wider world? Should it be 
released from the academic world altogether? Or 
is there an ecosystem that ties the model Stephen suggests to the wider world?


At 12:09 PM 6/18/2010, you wrote:
>Hiya Everyone, My call to arms of the previous 
>week didn't really attract the attention of this 
>list. Whether that be because it was either 
>trivial or implausible I cannot judge. But it 
>seems to me that "a society built, not on the 
>basis of a propagation of ideas, but rather, on 
>the basis of a gathering of them" captures 
>something important in the changes that are 
>happing in our culture. The concept of the 
>course is one point where this can be seen. What 
>has happened to the course over the years has 
>also happened to other parts of our culture, and 
>the current concept of the course has become so 
>entrenched that we cannot conceive of it being 
>something else, but rather, only more of what it 
>has currently become. Let me explain. The 
>'course' was originally a series of lectures 
>given by a professor at a university, sometimes 
>at the invitation of a student or academic 
>society, and sometimes on his own initiative. 
>The actual academic work being undertaken by a 
>student, understood as a person who was "reading 
>in such-and-such", typically under the direction 
>of one of these professors, was completely 
>separate. Courses were resources, rather like 
>books, that could be used to extend their 
>knowledge and suggest new ways of thinking, not 
>a body of content intended to be learned and 
>remembered. Even at the lower grades, the idea 
>of the course had little meaning. Read texts 
>such as the autobiography of John Stuart Mill 
>and we see that while there was a certain body 
>of material - classical languages, rhetoric and 
>logic, history, geography, science and 
>mathematics - that was expected to be learned, 
>an education was a continuous and fluid process 
>of teaching and learning, not an assemblage of 
>'courses', much less 'credits' (or that 
>atrocity, the 'credit-hour'). These are 
>inventions that came into being only with the 
>industrialization of education, with the 
>division of the labour of teaching, the 
>devolution from an individual tutor who 
>specialized in the student, to a series of 
>tutors who specialized in the subject. But as 
>the use of the course expanded, the 
>infrastructure and way of talking about an 
>education gradually grew to be centered on the 
>course itself. With individual courses came 
>individual textbooks designed for specific 
>courses, and with distance education came 
>complete course packages with textbooks and 
>designed learning packages describing sequences 
>of activities and interactions. The practice of 
>the lecture, once an almost spontaneous act of 
>creativity, became one of delivering a standard 
>set of learning materials, conformant with a 
>course outline, and congruent with learning 
>outcomes that would be measured in a summative 
>student evaluation at regular intervals. Thus, 
>when we think of the future of the course, it is 
>tempting to think of an acceleration of this 
>model, where the 'deliver' becomes more and more 
>efficient, where 'textbooks' and 'course 
>packages' are combined into easily packaged 
>multimedia entities, and where the concept of 
>'talking a course', far from being an 
>interesting and engaging set of genuinely 
>academic work, has become nothing more than the 
>demonstration of mastery of a set of competences 
>known, defined, and well-described far in 
>advance of any actual learning experience. And 
>so we get exactly this prediction of what the 
>concept a course will become: "“Do you really 
>think in 20 years somebody’s going to put on 
>their backpack drive a half hour to the 
>University of Minnesota from the suburbs, hault 
>their keester across campus and listen to some 
>boring person drone on about Spanish 101 or Econ 
>101? . . . Is there another way to deliver the 
>service other than a one size fits all 
>monopoly  provided that says show up at nine 
>o’clock on Wednesday morning for Econ 101, 
>can’t I just pull that down on my iPhone or 
>iPad whenever the heck I feel like it from 
>wherever I feel like, and instead of paying 
>thousands of dollars can I pay 199 for iCollege 
>instead of 99 cents for iTunes, you know?" As 
>posted by Trebor Scholz 
>And a lot of stuff in our world has become like 
>that. Books, once originally hand-written (and 
>not so long ago either) are now dictated off the 
>cuff to some secretary, or are assembled using 
>some link-catching software (cf Steven Johnson 
>) or some other industrial-age process that 
>involves only a small amount of actual 
>authorship and a great deal of assembling, 
>packaging and marketing (I think also of Jaron 
>Lanier observing that creativity today is being 
>replaced by assembly of many small bits of 
>not-so-creative content 
>Music is based on synthed voices, drum machines, 
>and packaging and distribution contracts. It is 
>not enough to say these things are hard. It is 
>not enough to say "Quality online courses are in 
>fact neither cheap nor easy to teach." Because 
>this just reifies the original idea, that what 
>we are producing is some sort of packaged and 
>marketed version of something that was once 
>earlier a much more continuous and much more 
>human process. Saying that "music is hard to 
>create" is neither true nor useful. The same 
>criticism applies to courses. It's not true 
>because, with good technology, things that were 
>really hard are now very accessible to people. I 
>can, in a matter of seconds, lay down a really 
>good and creative backing beat with Roc. 
>http://aviary.com/tools/music-creator Putting 
>together a 'course', for anyone with some degree 
>of subject matter expertise, is no more 
>difficult. There's nothing wrong with Hubert 
>Dreyfus's lectures in iTunes University. 
>They are perfectly good 'courses' and a great 
>many people have already learned a great deal 
>from them. What is wrong with the idea of 
>"instead of paying thousands of dollars can I 
>pay 199 for iCollege" is not that you can't get 
>a course for that kind of money - you can - but 
>rather the concurrent acceptance of a model that 
>has been developing for decades to the effect 
>that one's education, one's self, is something 
>that is consumed, passively, rather than created 
>actively. And even that's not quite it, because 
>people who are listening to Dreyfus every 
>morning on their iPod are actually actively 
>engaged in supporting their own learning. What 
>is missing here is the answer to the question, 
>"Is this all there is?" Is 'getting 
>existentialism' now equivalent to listening to 
>Dreyfus on tape? Well, no - but that's not 
>because creating a course is hard. Rather, it 
>has everything to do with the learner's 
>investment and contribution to the act of 
>learning. Sitting in the lecture hall, listening 
>to one of the greats hold forth on a series of 
>questions that you helped articulate and pose, 
>engaged in a series of lectures that you helped 
>organize, because they fed into a research 
>programme that you created and implemented, is 
>very different than listening to Hubert Dreyfus 
>on tape, not because it's hard for Hubert 
>Dreyfus to do his part, but because it's hard 
>for you to do your part. We don't (as we all 
>know, right?) consume an education, but our 
>education system has become based on the model 
>of consumption, so much so that even the critics 
>of it can articulate only about how hard it is 
>to create the consumable. This is why we - 
>George and I and David and Alec and Dave and 
>others - are working on opening up education. 
>Not because we think it will reduce the cost of 
>the consumable to zero, not because we think we 
>can package and deliver an education more 
>cheaply and more efficiently, but because we 
>understand that, unless an education is open, 
>unless it's precisely *not* a consumable, it's 
>not an education at all. And while *this* 
>observation, that education is not a consumable, 
>is hardly new or unique, our approach to it 
>appears to have been (though you know if you go 
>back into the history of education you can find 
>a great deal about self-organizing learning 
>communities and the pedagogies based on such 
>We have structured our approach to openness in 
>learning in three stages: 1. Open Content - here 
>we refer to any material that may be of use in 
>the purpose of education, not merely the 
>professional materials that might be produced by 
>educators and publishers, such as looks, 
>learning packages, learning content, learning 
>objects, but also the artifacts created by 
>people generally as evidence of their own 
>learning, blog posts, videos, music, animations, 
>software and the like; and distributed, not in 
>the sense that they are collected and packaged 
>and flaked and formed and sold or distributed 
>through advertiser-based media, but rather, 
>exchanged peer to peer, through a network of 
>connections, as a conversation rather than a 
>commodity. We have all of us offered reams of 
>learning materials online, freely available to 
>all who wish to read them, watch them, listen to 
>them, or to use the to create and share and 
>create anew. 2. Open Instruction - here we refer 
>to the 'lecture' portion of open learning, or 
>rather, the internet analogue of the original 
>lecture described at the top of this post, a 
>series or sequence of activities undertaken by 
>experts (or possibly putative experts) in a 
>field, but conducted not merely so 
>fully-subscribed students at Cambridge or Oxford 
>can attend, but rather, set out into the open, 
>taking advantage of modern streaming and 
>conferencing technology, so that an entire 
>community can attend, the conduct, then, of 
>learning activities and dialogue and reflection 
>in an open forum, engaging learners, and 
>modeling the practice of the discipline or 
>domain. Thus the Connectivism and Connective 
>Knowledge course conducted all its activities, 
>including synchronous class sessions, in a free 
>and open environment, and at its peak was 
>attended by 2200 students, each engaged in a 
>more or less self-determined set of individual 
>activities. 3. Open Assessment - there we refer 
>to the practice of obtaining and displaying 
>credentials demonstrating what one has learned, 
>and therefore of the process and procedures 
>leading to the assessment of such credentials, 
>and instead of maintaining and enforcing a 
>monopoly on the recognition of learning. In 
>Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, for 
>example, we published assignment directions and 
>questions, as well as rubrics for the assessment 
>of these assignments, and stated that any 
>external agency that wished to assess students 
>(who in turn wished to be assessed) attending 
>our course could do so. This, in a given 
>'course' there is not a single mode of 
>assessment, but can be as many as there are 
>students, and the assessment of individual 
>accomplishment is not only separated from the 
>presentation of course content or the conduct of 
>course instruction, it is independent of it. 
>This three-fold opening of learning allows 
>anyone with the interest and inclination (and 
>computer connection and time - two factors that 
>cannot be overlooked when considering the 
>widespread applicability of this model) to 
>benefit from the learning we offer, but not to 
>benefit simply as a passive consumer of the 
>learning (such would in one of our connectivist 
>courses be a very poor learning experience 
>indeed, as we have all been told by disgruntled 
>(and putative) 'students'), but as an active 
>participant in the creation of their own 
>learning. It restores the learner's investment 
>and contribution to the act of learning, and 
>does so in the only way that would possibly 
>work, by the elimination of corporate or 
>institutional proprietorship over the 
>instruments of learning. To the extent that 
>learning is produced and owned and sold to the 
>student by a provider, is the extent to which 
>the student fails to realize the benefit of that 
>learning, and must substitute some alternative 
>mechanism of their own. This is what you see in 
>actual universities and is what is exactly not 
>produced by prepackaged and syndicated lectures. 
>You don't see the learning the students create 
>for themselves, by arguing until the wee hours 
>in pubs, by forming and reforming into clubs and 
>associations and societies, by undertaking 
>projects profound to mundane, from the student 
>newspaper to student government to charitable 
>works to engineering pranks, by forming study 
>circles and reading circles and discussion 
>groups and debating events and even sports and 
>recreation and music and theatre. All these are 
>the education proper that happens in a 
>university system, and what are abstracted out 
>of course packages, and none of these are 'easy' 
>or 'hard' to deliver at greater or lesser 
>quality because these are not delivered at all, 
>but rather are created by the students 
>themselves. These, indeed, are the things we 
>look for as products of the three degrees of 
>open education - not a demonstration of some 
>learned body of knowledge, not mastery of a 
>true-false test or even the wiring of a 
>definitive essay or passing of an oral exam, but 
>rather, evidence that the facilitation provided 
>- open content, instruction and assessment - 
>have led to the development of these learning 
>activities, in whatever shape or form, by the 
>learners themselves, evidence that they have 
>begun to find and form and work with their own 
>understanding, to create their own 
>infrastructure, to prepare themselves to become 
>practitioners and therefore teachers in their 
>own right. We judge the success of a course not 
>by the grades but by the proliferation of 
>learning activity in its wake, and by that 
>measure, the Connectivism course was 
>significantly successful, having spawned 
>activities and communities that thrive two years 
>later. None of this, however, is relevant to a 
>community that still sees academic and learning 
>as having to do with the propagation of ideas, 
>and can only view creative acts from the 
>perspective of a publisher or aggregator. A 
>society based on the aggregation of ideas is not 
>one based on the idea of free labour, because 
>the concept of labour applies only is what is 
>produced, as though in a factory, is 
>commoditized and sold, as though a good or a 
>package. And though this may be hard for anyone 
>involved in the 'production' of knowledge or 
>information or content or learning to 
>understand, it doesn't matter whether the call 
>to arms received any reaction from this list or 
>any other list, because what was important in 
>the call to arms wasn't the propagation of the 
>ideas inside it, Wasn't the marketing and 
>distribution and popularization of those ideas, 
>but the very act of creating those ideas in the 
>first place, a space where designations of 
>'trivial' or 'implausible' don't even have any 
>meaning, much less relevance. In writing this, I 
>create my own learning, and its meaning is 
>determined, not by the effect it has on you, but 
>by the impact it had on me through the act of 
>its creation. What matters, of the work that I 
>do, is that it help provide, and not hinder, an 
>open space for content, instruction, and 
>assessment. -- Stephen > -----Original 
>Message----- > From: 
>idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc- > 
>bounces at mailman.thing.net] On Behalf Of Trebor 
>Scholz > Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 1:13 PM > 
>To: idc at mailman.thing.net > Subject: [iDC] 
>iCollege > > Roughly four minutes into this 
>conversation with Jon Stewart of "The > Daily 
>Show," governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, 
>brings on the Good > News. There really is an 
>efficient business model for higher education > 
>where networked learners can simply pull down 
>their just-in-time > education onto their iPads, 
>he claims. > > “Do you really think in 20 
>years somebody’s going to put on their > 
>backpack drive a half hour to the University of 
>Minnesota from the > suburbs, hault their 
>keester across campus and listen to some 
>boring > person drone on about Spanish 101 or 
>Econ 101? . . . Is there another > way to 
>deliver the service other than a one size fits 
>all monopoly > provided that says show up at 
>nine o’clock on Wednesday morning for > Econ > 
>101, can’t I just pull that down on my iPhone 
>or iPad whenever the heck > I feel like it from 
>wherever I feel like, and instead of paying > 
>thousands of dollars can I pay 199 for iCollege 
>instead of 99 cents for > iTunes, you 
>know?” > > 
> > pawlenty-unedited-interview-pt--1 > > Quality 
>online courses are in fact neither cheap nor 
>easy to teach but > such nuance does not fit 
>into the shtick of the Republican governor. > 
>The > subtext of his appearance on the national 
>stage is an alarming crusade > by for-profit 
>online-education companies that try to activate 
>an > understanding of their money-making 
>courseware as being more deserving > of state 
>funding than, say, liberal arts education, which 
>is cast as > Luddite and stuffy -if not 
>obsolete- ivory tower where administrators > 
>just don't get today's "digital natives." When 
>students default on > their > loans, for 
>example, let's stick the debt with the 
>government. > > Pawlenty proposes to "put the 
>consumer in charge, whether it’s > education > 
>whether it’s health care to the extent we can 
>technology can help a > lot." and Jon Stewart 
>retorts that, well, it's “hard to disagree 
>with > that.” > > Really, Jon? > > > 
>_______________________________________________ > 
>  iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for 
>Distributed Creativity > 
>(distributedcreativity.org) > 
>iDC at mailman.thing.net > 
>https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc >  
> > List Archive: > 
>http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/ > > iDC 
>Photo Stream: > 
>http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/ > > 
>  RSS feed: > 
>http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc > > 
>iDC Chat on Facebook: > 
> > > Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by 
>adding the tag iDCref 
>iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for 
>Distributed Creativity 
>iDC at mailman.thing.net 
>List Archive: 
>http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/ iDC 
>Photo Stream: 
>RSS feed: 
>http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc iDC 
>Chat on Facebook: 
>Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref

Nancy White | Full Circle Associates | Connecting communities online
nancyw at fullcirc.com | +1 206 517 4754 | GMT - 8 
|skype - choconancy | Twitter NancyWhite

More information about the iDC mailing list